Giving back: the case study

“I share because the learning I create and the experiences I have help others. I share to push my own thinking and to make an impact on learners, both young and old, all over the world.” from The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros

I confess. I struggle to see that my voice matters. All my life, I’ve been told that it’s better to be humble. Be quiet, because speaking up is arrogant, and arrogance is wrong. So every time I publish a post, every time I share an idea, I am pushing back against that narrative. Everybody’s voice matters. In the spirit of sharing, here goes:

Every year, I walk into my room and try something different. Often it is a result of something I’ve read, some experience I’ve had, from going to an EdCamp in West Virginia and seeing their flexible seating, to hearing a keynote at a district PD and seeking to read more about it. Last year, my catalyst was two-fold. First, I heard Dr. Corey Seemiller speak about Generation Z, and I checked out her book, Generation Z Goes to College.  Then I attend Inspire 2017, where I learned about LRNG. That’s when I knew that 2017-18 was going to be different.

Because I teach dual-enrollment courses, I knew I was working within the constraints of my approved college syllabus. That being said, I wanted to make the experience more meaningful to my Gen Z students. This first blog post will describe how I transformed their interview analysis paper into a meaningful case study of a professional. Subsequent posts will detail how I transformed their research papers, persuasive projects, and final exams.

As with every school year, step one required me to do some deep diving into who they were as people.

To get to know the students, and for them to get to know themselves, I asked students to take the Holland Code profile test. I grouped students together, based on their Holland code profile. The Holland code is one way to determine which profession is a best fit, and it is one way to explore life after high school.

In groups based on class period and interest, students determined which profession most interested them to interview. They completed this badge on interviewing professionals and went as a group to interview an expert. This interview became the primary source document for their case study paper. Although each group member had the same audio, the papers were very different, based on the student’s own context. This part was successful.

Here’s what went wrong: some students were badly placed with professionals. Others had trouble getting their professional to follow through.  Some found that they could not get detailed answers from their interviewee. Some found the whole experience not as meaningful as I would like. So here’s how it’s going to go differently, next year.

The first problem was the way students determined their future professional interests.  Instead of asking students to take the ONET Holland Code test, I might have students try the Ohio Means Jobs Career Cluster profile, so they could work towards the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal. In this way, they are not only preparing for the future, they are hopefully getting a more accurate description of what they want to be when they leave high school.

The second problem was the meaningful connection to area professionals. Luckily, one of my colleagues is looking at having a Career Fair in the fall, and she wants students to be able to job shadow a professional for a day. If my students coupled job shadowing with interviews, then they would have much more meaningful case study papers.

If you would like copies of any of my materials, from the question template I provided to the reflection I had students write about the interview process, please contact me in the comments below.

“From the darkness comes a train, cutting through the myst” by Stefan Insam is shared under a CC by SA 2.0 license

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Living the mantra

I believe my abilities, intelligence, and talents can be developed, leading to the creation of new and better ideas.–The Mantra of an Innovative Educator, George Couros

This is my 18th year of teaching. Some might think that after so many years of teaching, I’d be sitting back on my laurels, dusting off those overheads and worksheets, and sunning myself by the pool this summer.

Anyone that thinks dusty worksheets live in my room doesn’t know me.

I am always trying to find the next, greatest thing in education. I want my students to leave my room knowing they have learned something they can use in the future, to know that their time was well spent. I know that I need to keep my saw sharp, because I know Stephen Covey is right: that 7th habit helps make me a better teacher.

This summer, to sharpen my saw I am:

  1. Continuing with Weight Watchers online (I have lost 20 pounds since March, and I’m looking to 30 more for a healthy BMI.)
  2. Taking tri weekly water aerobics classes and trying for at 10,000 steps or their equivalent
  3. Taking a graduate class from Wright State (I have two more to complete my 18 credit hours, making me officially College Credit Plus certified and bringing me to Master + 25, the maximum education on our contract salary schedule)
  4. Finishing my Google Certified Teacher, level 2 test (I just completed Level 1 this summer)
  5. Participating in weekly #ohedchats
  6. Learning about Voxer and reading Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros

What will you do, to keep your saw sharp this summer?

Image courtesy of Empowering Students to Lead

Invoking empathy

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

George Couros says that “to be innovative, . . .focus on having empathy for those we serve.” To truly have empathy for others, we have to learn more than the single story students present to us in the classroom. It is not enough to look at students as they sit in our rooms and think we know who they are. It is not enough to pass out an index card or a link to a Google form. It is not enough to analyze a pre-test or assessment data.

Relationship building is key for reaching students where they are, rather than where we think they are. Without empathy, we teach in the style in which we are most comfortable, not in the style that is best for each learner. Truly working to know our students takes time, effort, and multiple attempts. I need to know my students’ passions. I need to know their background, where they come from, in order to know where they are going. And they need to know that I care, and that I am interested in them as people, not just data in my spreadsheet.